‘Guadalupe Galaxy’ fundraising gala to offer in-person, virtual options

‘Guadalupe Galaxy’ fundraising gala to offer in-person, virtual options

guadalupe galaxy logo

Guadalupe Center’s annual fundraising gala on Jan. 20 will offer in-person and virtual attendance options as the nonprofit continues raising awareness and support for its life-changing education programs. 

Guadalupe Galaxy: Constellations of Hope” will be held Thursday, Jan. 20 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, 2600 Tiburon Drive in Naples. The fundraising gala will feature cocktails, dinner, heartwarming student performances and speakers, galaxy-inspired décor, the return of a live auction, out-of-this-world entertainment and the popular Jump Up for Education, a lively interactive call to action that allows attendees to make donations and jump up to show their support for Guadalupe Center. 

The presenting sponsor for Guadalupe Galaxy is Moorings Park Grande Lake by London Bay Development Group. Event chairs are Bev Cherry and Debbie Toler. 

In 2021, Guadalupe Center’s Circtacular gala was an entirely virtual, circus-themed extravaganza and raised $1 million. That event featured special effects, augmented reality and comedic performances, as well as compelling videos and heartfelt testimonials to demonstrate the impact of fundraising on the lives of students and families in Immokalee. 

“Circtacular proved that a virtual event can be just as successful as an in-person event if executed with excellence,” said Guadalupe Center President Dawn Montecalvo. “Guadalupe Galaxy will be a hybrid event that allows supporters who feel comfortable in a group setting to enjoy a traditional gala, while allowing those who prefer smaller settings to participate remotely yet still make a difference in the lives of students we serve by providing a high-quality education that can create endless possibilities.” 

Proceeds from Guadalupe Galaxy will support the nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program, After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program and college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program. Guadalupe Center’s mission is breaking the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee. 

Guadalupe Galaxy Sponsorships

Multiple patron levels are available. In-person ticket opportunities include: 

  • Diamond Patron ($25,000): Includes 20 gala tickets and 6 post-event Patron Party tickets
  • Platinum Patron ($10,000): Includes 10 gala tickets and 4 post-event Patron Party tickets 
  • Gold Patron ($5,000): Includes 6 gala tickets and 2 post-event Patron Party tickets 
  • Silver Patron ($3,000): Includes 2 gala tickets and 2 post-event Patron Party tickets 
  • Bronze Patron ($1,000): Includes 1 gala ticket and 1 post-event Patron Party ticket 
  • Patron ($500): Includes 1 gala ticket 

Additionally, five patron levels are available for the virtual gala and include a link to the livestream: Platinum Patron ($10,000), Gold Patron ($5,000), Silver Patron ($3,000), Bronze Patron ($1,000) and Patron ($500). Virtual patrons can experience real-time segments, including a passionate speech from a Tutor Corps student and the Jump Up for Education.

Guadalupe Galaxy Contact

For more information or to purchase tickets, please contact Tammy Richelieu at 239-963-3668 or TRichelieu@GuadalupeCenter.org. 

Guadalupe Center receives $25,000 grant for after-school, summer programs

Guadalupe Center receives $25,000 grant for after-school, summer programs

community foundation grant for after school tutoring & summer enrichment program

Guadalupe Center has received a generous $25,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Collier County to enhance educational programs that focus on out-of-school time, including after-school, summer and college-preparatory programs. 

Guadalupe Center’s After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program provides early intervention for elementary students who score below grade-level on standardized tests. Each year, nearly 800 students in kindergarten, first and second grades attend the After-school Tutoring Program, while 300 students participate in the Summer Enrichment Program. Both components focus on reading and math instruction. 

The nonprofit’s Tutor Corps Program is a college-preparatory program that offers guidance in college and career readiness, ACT and SAT test prep, mentorships, financial literacy and scholarship assistance. The program serves 117 high school and 149 college students. 

“These programs provide extra attention and support that allows students to reach the academic milestones required for success in school, college and beyond,” said Guadalupe Center President Dawn Montecalvo. “That is why support from the Community Foundation of Collier County and other organizations is so important. Every child has big dreams and ambitions, but they need opportunities, guidance and support to help fulfill their dreams.” 

Testing data show that 100% of students in the After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program made significant learning gains in reading and math after completing the program. An astounding 94% of students in the Tutor Corps Program ultimately earn a college degree.

About the Community Foundation

The Community Foundation awards annual grants through a competitive application and review process. The foundation’s donors help identify and support the community’s most current needs. 

The Community Foundation of Collier County, now in its 36th year, is a tax-exempt, public, charitable organization established in 1985 to increase and focus on local private philanthropy. Today, the Community Foundation of Collier County manages more than 850 funds, collaborates with hundreds of nonprofits, holds over $276.6 million in assets and has distributed over $229.5 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and community programs. 

Education: The gift that keeps giving

header for blog post

Each holiday season, people try to find the elusive perfect gift, a gift that keeps giving. We’ve found it – education!

Guadalupe Center President Dawn Montecalvo wrote the following article that appears in the December issue of Life in Naples explaining the critical importance of supporting education to create endless possibilities for students in Immokalee.

Education: The gift that keeps giving

There are gifts that almost certainly will create a magical Christmas morning for a child. A new smartphone. A train set. A bicycle.

Every gift-giver wants to see that euphoric state of joy and happiness last forever, but technology evolves, interests change and children grow.

For generations, people have been searching for a gift that truly keeps on giving, an item that is just as valuable today as it will be next month, next year and beyond. That gift is out there, though. It’s the gift of education.

Education can make dreams a reality. Little girls and boys can dream about becoming doctors, teachers, business owners, engineers, financial planners and more. A high-quality education can make it happen.

Of course, education is not a gift with immediate gratification. It’s a gift that requires hard work from the recipient, who must put forth effort in the classroom and show ambition, drive and determination. It’s a gift that needs mentoring and guidance along the way. It’s a gift that requires soul-searching and contemplation.

In the end, though, education creates endless possibilities by allowing children to set a goal and then begin charting their future.

Each year, Guadalupe Center serves more than 1,500 students through its nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program, After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program and college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program.

gift that keeps giving life in naplesThese programs are making a difference in the lives of Immokalee families, including one with four siblings all benefiting from Guadalupe Center’s educational programs. Alberta, the oldest, is now a sophomore at Roberts Wesleyan University majoring in business, with scholarships and grants covering nearly every expense. Rosaura, a Tutor Corps student, will graduate next spring among the top of her class at Immokalee High School, where she participates in numerous clubs and activities, and also is enrolled in Florida Gulf Coast University’s early admissions program. Elmer is an eighth-grader who has been able to receive specialized support and services that are helping him excel in middle school. Graciela, the youngest, is a second-grader whose reading, math and social skills soared after enrolling in the After-school Tutoring Program.

This is just one family. Guadalupe Center hopes to reach as many families as possible and accomplish its mission of breaking the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee.

That mission becomes clearer when reviewing statistical data. According to 2021 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, median income rises proportionately with educational attainment:

  • Less than high school diploma: $619/week
  • High school diploma: $781/week
  • Associate degree: $938/week
  • Bachelor’s degree: $1,305/week
  • Master’s degree: $1,545/week
  • Doctorate degree: $1,885/week

Money, of course, doesn’t buy happiness. For children who grew up living in poverty, though, it pays for three meals per day, rent or mortgage, utilities, reliable transportation, health care, clothing and other expenses.

Education can change lives and change an impoverished community like Immokalee.

Every December, generous residents of Southwest Florida open their hearts and wallets to support numerous charitable causes. Education is a gift unlike any other, one that helps students recognize that the impossible is actually possible and that their dreams are within reach.

– By Dawn Montecalvo

CLICK HERE TO DONATE: Education: The Gift that Keeps Giving

Donations needed for Guadalupe Center’s Holiday Gift Shop

Guadalupe Center aims to provide presents to about 2,000 Immokalee children in 2021 – the most it’s ever served – through the nonprofit’s annual Holiday Gift Shop. 

Guadalupe Center holiday class photoThrough Dec. 10, Guadalupe Center is accepting new, unwrapped donations of age-appropriate toys, games, clothing, shoes and other gifts for infants through teenagers. 

“Because Guadalupe Center has expanded to create additional educational opportunities for students in Immokalee, we also need to grow our outreach programs, including the Holiday Gift Shop,” said Guadalupe Center President Dawn Montecalvo. “Thanks to generous supporters and local businesses, we have always reached our goal of making sure that all students attending Guadalupe Center, as well as their siblings, have a gift to unwrap on Christmas morning. We are hopeful the community will again step forward to brighten the holidays for families in Immokalee.” 

In Immokalee, 97% of children are classified as “economically needy.” After their parents pay for rent, food, utilities and other expenses, there often isn’t enough money left to buy Christmas gifts. 

“The pandemic has exacerbated financial challenges faced by low-income working families, and rising inflation is putting even more stress on the family budget,” said Robert Spano, vice president of programs at Guadalupe Center. “Every child should have a gift under the Christmas tree with their name on it, and the Holiday Gift Shop is our way of helping families create a memorable holiday season.”

Holiday Gift Suggestions

Age-appropriate gift suggestions include: 

  • Infants and toddlers (0-2 years): infant gyms and bouncers, rattles, baby dolls, stacking rings, light-up or musical toys, crib mobiles, bath toys 
  • Preschool-age children (3-5 years): building blocks, baby dolls, wireless headphones or earbuds, remote-controlled cars, popular children’s characters and superheroes, activity sets, Play-Doh 
  • School-age children (6-12 years): dolls, action figures, LEGO kits, wireless headphones or earbuds, musical instruments, sporting goods, popular children’s characters and superheroes, arts and crafts sets, riding toys, tablets, science lab kits 
  • Teenagers (13-18 years): gift cards, wireless headphones or earbuds, Roku Express boxes, Bluetooth speakers, Fitbits, cell phone accessories, tablets 

How to Donate Holiday Gifts

Unwrapped gifts can be dropped off through Dec. 10 at two locations in Collier County: Guadalupe Resale Shop, 12980 Tamiami Trail North, Unit 10, in Naples; and Guadalupe Center, 509 Hope Circle in Immokalee. Additionally, monetary donations can be made securely online at GuadalupeCenter.org/donate.

For more information, please contact Haley Thalheimer, community outreach and donor relations coordinator, at HThalheimer@GuadalupeCenter.org or 239-657-7120. 

Vintage vs. old: How to tell the difference

Vintage vs. old: How to tell the difference

vintageFashionistas and collectors are in hot pursuit of vintage items to add to their wardrobes, homes or garages. 

Whether it’s a funky print, retro sneakers, 1950s hotrod or early 20th-century artwork, vintage pieces are highly sought-after items. 

But how do you know if something is vintage or just plain old? Simply study the resale market. 

Five elements help determine whether an item is considered vintage: 

  • Age: Generally, vintage items are a few decades old, with items from the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and even 1980s regularly earning that term. Vintage items often exchange hands a few times. 
  • Quality: The most impressive aspect of vintage items is that they’re in excellent condition given their age. That means holes, tears, dents, cracks and rust should be minimal or nonexistent. 
  • Demand: Are people asking for that item or searching online for it? Vintage items often have an emotional connection with their owner or potential buyer. 
  • Quantity: In an era of mass production, it’s difficult to find items that are in short supply. When they are few and far between, though, consumers will act fast before they’re gone. 
  • Value: On the secondhand market, prices are driven by quality, demand and quantity. Some vintage cars, for example, sell for a higher price today than their original MSRP, even when factoring inflation into the price. 

Across Southwest Florida, the vast majority of people are building their wardrobes with new clothing purchased at department stores or online retailers. They are decorating their homes with sofas, coffee tables, kitchen tables, lamps and artwork straight from the catalog or showroom of a nearby big box store. 

Adding vintage items to your closet or living room introduces personality, style and a little flair. Fortunately, savvy shoppers can visit a variety of resale shops in Collier and Lee counties to score vintage styles. 

Vintage fashion can be plaid or floral designs, jeans, dresses and jewelry from bygone eras. Vintage furniture includes end tables, lamp bases and lamp shades, vases, tchotchkes and chairs. Even plates, bowls, wine glasses and silverware can be vintage. 

If an item was produced or manufactured in the 1990s or early 2000s, has little interest among consumers and an incredibly low price, it isn’t vintage… it’s just old. 

– By Kat McNabb, Manager of Guadalupe Resale Shop

Guadalupe Center launches ‘Stepping Stones’ campaign

Guadalupe Center launches ‘Stepping Stones’ campaign

Guadalupe Center - van Otterloo Family Campus for LearningGuadalupe Center has announced a new campaign, Stepping Stones to the Future, that allows supporters to help launch an educational journey for students in Immokalee. 

Stepping Stones allows supporters to purchase personalized brick pavers that will be installed in walkways and courtyards at the new van Otterloo Family Campus for Learning, which will open in spring 2022. 

“We want to fill the campus with messages of hope and encouragement so children know they have the full support of this community,” said Dawn Montecalvo, president of Guadalupe Center. “Stepping Stones is a campaign that will have a lasting impact for years to come because an investment in education is an investment that transforms lives today, tomorrow and beyond.” 

Three types of personalized brick pavers are available: 

  • 8 inches by 8 inches: taupe engraved brick 
  • 9 inches by 12 inches: taupe engraved brick (includes option for corporate logo) 
  • 12 inches by 12 inches: beige engraved brick (includes option for corporate logo) 

The van Otterloo Family Campus for Learning will feature two academic buildings with multiple classrooms, a library, learning lab, cafeteria and kitchen, playground, administrative offices, mentor lounges, commons areas, a medical and dental suite, outdoor gardens and a student wall of fame. 

For years, Guadalupe Center has maintained a waiting list of more than 500 students for seats in its nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program. In 2020, Guadalupe Center opened the Monaghan Family Early Childhood Education Campus, which accommodates 66 children from infancy through 3 years old. The van Otterloo campus will accommodate up to 154 Early Childhood Education students. It also will become home to Guadalupe Center’s college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program, providing students and staff with access to a learning lab, meeting rooms and spaces for collaboration. 

Both new campuses were funded by philanthropic support secured through Guadalupe Center: 2020 & Beyond, a comprehensive campaign to provide life-changing, transformational programs for additional students in Immokalee. 

For more information or to purchase a Stepping Stone, please contact Nzinga King at NKing@GuadalupeCenter.org or 239-657-7124.  

Guadalupe Center celebrates 200th alumni to earn college degree

Guadalupe Center Celebrates 200th Alumni to Earn College Degree

Immokalee is a close-knit, rural community comprised of hard workers who value family, friendship and a spirit of service.

Historically, though, Immokalee’s educational attainment rate lags behind many communities. U.S. Census data show just 5% of Immokalee adults have a bachelor’s degree. That rate is among the lowest in America and substantially less than Naples’ average of 57%.

mateo alexander mateo mateo (option 2)That’s what makes Guadalupe Center’s latest accomplishment a milestone worth celebrating. This summer, the nonprofit cheered as Mateo Alexander Mateo-Mateo became its 200th alumni to earn a college degree. It took just a few days for Guadalupe Center to note its next college graduate, and then the next one, and then the next one.

In addition to the 200-plus graduates as of this summer, an additional 122 additional students were still enrolled at colleges and universities around the country. Another 30 seniors from Immokalee High School’s Class of 2021 also headed to campus this fall.

In 2017, Mateo-Mateo completed Guadalupe Center’s college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program, which provides Immokalee High School students with college and career readiness, ACT and SAT test prep, mentorships, financial literacy and scholarship assistance, as well as wages for tutoring younger students.

Mateo-Mateo, 22, completed the bachelor’s degree portion of his accounting program this spring at the University of Missouri and will earn a master’s degree next year. Over the summer, he completed an internship with an investment bank based in New York City. Although he admits the thought of going from a small, impoverished town to working on Wall Street would be a challenge, he keeps referencing an old adage.

“If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere,” Mateo-Mateo says.

Guadalupe Center’s mission is breaking the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee. Although Mateo-Mateo is still writing his story, Guadalupe Center is excited about his future, as well as the next set of Tutor Corps students starting college. The Class of 2021 set a record with $4 million in scholarship offers and grants.

We celebrate high school graduates as they head off to college and college graduates as they start their careers. Dozens of alumni have returned to Immokalee as educators, doctors, financial professionals, health care specialists, engineers, public service workers and business leaders.

The pipeline of college graduates will transform Immokalee. Education has a direct correlation to poverty, so the lower the educational attainment rate, the higher the poverty rate, and vice versa. Census data show more than 37% of Immokalee residents live in poverty compared to just 8% in Naples. Education brings individuals, families and communities out of poverty.

van Otterloo Family Campus for Learning

Guadalupe Center will honor Tutor Corps college graduates on its Tutor Corps Wall of Fame at the van Otterloo Family Campus for Learning, a new educational campus under construction in Immokalee. The Wall of Fame will be a key feature of Brynne & Bob Coletti Hall, the new home for the Tutor Corps Program.

Mateo-Mateo hopes his story, as well as those of other Tutor Corps graduates, shows the youth of Immokalee that the possibilities are endless through education.

“You can do whatever you want to in life, but you have to clench your teeth and do 100% honest work to get there,” Mateo-Mateo said.

200th alumni– By Dawn Montecalvo, President of Guadalupe Center.

Why high school freshmen should think about college now

Today’s high school freshmen are 14 or 15 years old. 

They’ve just gone from top dogs in middle school to the smallest fish in a big sea. Academics are a cut above their previous studies. Their bodies and minds are going through periods of change, too. 

With high school just starting, college probably is the last thing on the minds of high school freshmen. But it should be. In fact, freshmen year helps lay the groundwork for sophomore, junior and senior years, and ultimately college.  

Below are five tasks that ninth-graders should be doing now to get a head start on their college planning.

High School Freshmen Checklist

(1) Meet with a school counselor. Academic advisors and guidance counselors help students set course schedules and monitor grades, but they’re also experts on college planning. Advisors can explain the college admissions process, financial aid, placement testing and what to expect from campus life. 

(2) Explore college options. Across America, there are more than 4,300 degree-granting institutions, according to the U.S. Department of Education. No two schools are alike. There are two- and four-year schools, public and private colleges, and liberal arts and research institutions. Colleges are located in urban, suburban and rural locations. There also are trade schools that offer certificates and professional licensure. 

(3) Understand finances. Colleges are expensive. That’s why it is important for parents and students to have a conversation about finances. Published tuition prices, however, aren’t necessarily the amount that all students pay. There are an abundance of scholarships, grants, loans and work study programs that help reduce the cost of attendance. You just need to know how to find them. 

(4) Review college majors. Teachers start asking this question in kindergarten: what do you want to be when you grow up? Now is the time for freshmen to start answering it. Guidance counselors can help students narrow down possible career choices based on abilities and interests. Another way to begin narrowing the list is by visiting websites of colleges to see what degree programs are available. 

(5) Study, study, study. High GPAs and test scores unlock the majority of colleges, and thus more academic opportunities. By ninth grade, elementary and middle school grades are wiped clean, and every freshman starts the school year with a clean slate. Planning, time management and effort are critical factors that determine academic success. Freshmen should begin studying for the ACT or SAT, and set a goal of finishing the first semester with a 4.0 GPA. 

In high school, it’s easy to get off track with so many potential distractions. That’s why Guadalupe Center emphasizes college, and what it takes to get there, from day one. Parents, teachers, guidance counselors and school administrators should all be willing to help. After all, today’s high school students represent the next generation of leaders. 

Freshmen essentially have four years to pave their path to college. Although the ship hasn’t necessarily sailed for sophomores, juniors and seniors, delaying the planning process only cuts down the time students have to make these incredibly important decisions. The clock is ticking. 

By Daniel Martinez, Tutor Corps Program high school director at Guadalupe Center. For more information, please visit GuadalupeCenter.org or call 239-657-7711. 

Tutor Corps students shop for future at Guadalupe Resale Shop

Each year, Guadalupe Resale Shop welcomes high school graduates of Guadalupe Center’s Tutor Corps Program for a fun shopping trip.

Students are allowed to select up to 10 items priced at $40 or less, at no cost. Students often use this opportunity to add pants, long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, jackets and coats to their wardrobes, as well as business attire for job interviews and formal events.

Check out photos of the Tutor Corps Class of 2021 shopping at Guadalupe Resale Shop.

Tutor Corps Shopping Trip

Guadalupe Galaxy fundraising gala will be held Jan. 20 at Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort

Guadalupe Center has announced the date and theme for its signature fundraising gala, an annual event that supports life-changing educational programs for students in Immokalee. 

Guadalupe Galaxy: Constellations of Hope, Charting the Future” begins at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 20 and will be held at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, 2600 Tiburon Drive in Naples. 

“Guadalupe Center has always been a hub of positivity and optimism, a place that gives hope to students and families in Immokalee as they work toward a brighter future,” said Dawn Montecalvo, president of Guadalupe Center. “The event’s theme captures the essence of Guadalupe Center as we help build a strong educational foundation that will skyrocket student success in school, college and careers.” 

Event chairs for Guadalupe Galaxy are Bev Cherry and Debbie Toler. Both women are longtime supporters and current Board of Trustees members who are dedicated to building a strong future for students at Guadalupe Center. 

“I’m thrilled to be involved and co-chair Guadalupe Galaxy,” Toler said. “Guadalupe Center has such a tremendous impact in changing the lives of so many students through education. Our galaxy theme is so relevant in enabling kids to chart their future.” 

“This will be a fun event to celebrate the present and future successes of our true stars… our beautiful children, of course,” added Cherry, “and also the staff, volunteers, mentors, supporters, families and so many more!” 

Guadalupe Galaxy details

Guadalupe Galaxy will be an in-person event featuring heartwarming student performances and speakers, galaxy-inspired décor, the return of a live auction and out-of-this-world entertainment. The gala will include the popular Jump Up for Education, a lively interactive call to action that allows attendees to make donations and jump up to show their support for Guadalupe Center. 

In 2021, Guadalupe Center’s fundraising gala, Circtacular, was a virtual, circus-themed event that raised more than $1 million to support the nonprofit’s nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program, After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program and college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program. Guadalupe Center’s mission is breaking the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee. 

Tickets are $500 per person with patron ticket packages. Table sponsorships also are available. 

Guadalupe Galaxy sponsorships and underwriting opportunities are available, including Invitation Sponsor ($7,500), Program Sponsor ($5,000), Student Experience Sponsor ($3,000) and Valet Sponsor ($2,000). Sponsorship opportunities include event tickets, recognition at the gala and marketing exposure. 

For tickets or sponsorship opportunities, please contact Special Events Coordinator Tammy Richelieu at 239-963-3668 or email TRichelieu@GuadalupeCenter.org. 

EVENT PAGE: Guadalupe Galaxy